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Media The Courts The Internet Your Rights Online Usenet Indexing Trial Set To Begin Next Week 76

An anonymous reader writes "Only a few weeks after a jury acquitted Alan Ellis, the owner of the BitTorrent site 'OinK's Pink Palace,' of copyright infringement, another high profile case is about to start next week, this time for the newsgroup side of things. The MPA (Motion Picture Association) trial against, a website that indexes NZB files and content on the newsgroups, will begin in London on Monday. Will lightning strike twice in favor of website indexing?" Torrentfreak points out one major difference between the cases: "Ellis’s charge was one of fraud, allegedly conducted by an individual and dealt with under criminal law, while that leveled against Newzbin is one of allowing and inducing illegal copying, i.e copyright infringement, but carried out by a bona fide company under civil law."
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  • by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:13PM (#30971336) Homepage

    Somebody has been breaking the first rule of Usenet

  • When I was a kid I used to ride a Frankie Hill board to school everyday. We were big into the whole anti-establishment thing in those days, smoking dope after school and drinking until blitzed on the roof of my friend's house. And we always saw the harassment we got from cops for tearing up private property as something that ought to be changed. Skateboarding, as we used to say, is not a crime.

    Nowadays, I'm a little wiser and a little more flush with cash. I can see now how the truck grinds and rail slides

    • by TimHunter ( 174406 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:01PM (#30971718)

      use up the free time our middle class parents were giving us.


    • by SkyLeach ( 188871 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:58PM (#30972326) Homepage

      wait... wat?

      "found guilty of indexing"!?!?

      wtf does that mean exactly? Guilty of writing a program to search data? Guilty of writing a program to search data and then letting others view the results?

      The only way that the MPAA/RIAA even know what is out there is by doing the same thing, the only difference being they aren't providing a service, they are angry about what they found.

      What we find ourselves faced with is the guilt or innocence of someone writing software and then *giving away the software and/or the results of the software*. If indexing is a crime, then it is only a very very small step to say that writing software that gives others access to "features" of their hardware that the manufacturer doesn't want to give access to is illegal. After all, without VLC and mplayer it would be pretty easy for Quicktime/iTunes and Microsoft Media player to lock down the watching of illegal movies and listening of illegal music.

      Keep walking down that path, and soon we loose all our digital freedoms...

      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:18PM (#30973820) Homepage

        There's two very fundamental decisions in the US, the Sony vs Betamax decision and the MGM vs Grokster decision. The essence is that the Betamax decision says infringements are not sufficient in itself as long as there is substantial non-infringing use, but the Grokster decision (9-0 vote) says it's not a general shield against how you design, apply, market, sell and support it. That goes for how you plan it internally, how you market it externally and how you handle support from users. They could go as far as consider things implicit in its domain or construction, for example if I set up an indexer that only indexed warez groups or had search filters only relevant to warez releases that would be used against me as intent.

        In short, you have to keep a thick veil between you and infringing users and pretend the 800lb elephant in the room isn't there. You are making a general tool for a general market, once you start straying from that you are very likely to break the law. And it's an extremely good reason why there's normally a zero tolerance policy on warez talk in support forums. You can not legally allow yourself to know.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by furbyhater ( 969847 )

        If indexing is a crime, then it is only a very very small step ... Keep walking down that path, and soon we loose all our digital freedoms...

        Massive exaggeration? Newsbin handpicks warez (or even posts them themselves), then creates nzb files and garnishes them with detailed descriptions, only to charge a small fee from everyone who wants access to their "catalog". Quite different from a simple aggregator. The proliferation of NZBs is destroying the usenet community (most current usenet lusers have probably never even read a group. It's just something equivalent to rapidshare to them, but with moar 1334).

        • by michaelhood ( 667393 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @08:55PM (#30975942)

          Newsbin handpicks warez (or even posts them themselves), then creates nzb files and garnishes them with detailed descriptions, only to charge a small fee from everyone who wants access to their "catalog". Quite different from a simple aggregator.

          This is not how Newzbin works at all. It's community-driven. Paying users can 'editorialize' the search results by marking posts of interest and grouping together files in "reports." These reports can have a title, description, article IDs, filenames, and then other users can post comments on them. Newzbin, itself, provides nothing but an index of Usenet headers.

    • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:56PM (#30972946) Journal
      "Newzbin should be found guilty of indexing"

      Then I think Google should be found guilty of indexing []. After all that link provided me with thousands of valid Windows XP CD keys, and Google indexed those sites and provided me with the information, that's illegal, right? Oops, google just gave me valid credit card numbers! []

      When will Google and all the search engines of the world be brought up on charges and this madness end!?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

        Never, because Google can fight back and win - thereby establishing a precedent unfavorable to the **AAs.

    • by dissy ( 172727 )

      Newzbin should be found guilty of indexing

      Fortunately for you, they are. Indexing is exactly what they do.
      Fortunately for everyone else, indexing is not a crime.

      It's pretty much like saying both you and I are guilty of posting messages to slashdot.

  • Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:18PM (#30971362)
    Unlike, say, The Pirate Bay, will apparently cooperate with takedown requests. Yet they're getting sued anyway.

    Way to be a shining example of rationality there, MPA.
  • Newzbin is not providing material for download, but instead just providing information. Google does the same thing... Clicking the first link on google from the search 'office 2007 download warez' this website showed up: [] They're offering Office 2007 as a torrent file
    • But are they providing information with the intent to facilitate copyright infringement? Intent matters.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Google also has billions and billions of dollars and can exert pressure on information distributors.

        Google Exec: "Oops, sorry MPA, apparently you and all of your associated studios just fall off the google. Oh noes!"

        • Google also has billions and billions of dollars and can exert pressure on information distributors.

          Google Exec: "Oops, sorry MPA, apparently you and all of your associated studios just fall off the google. Oh noes!"

          Would that hurt them? Seriously, who goes to the website for movie studios? Or the official movie website for that matter? If anyone I know has a question about a movie at all they go straight to imdb, not googling for the movie studio or official site.

      • But are they providing information with the intent to facilitate copyright infringement? Intent matters.

        In which countries?

        • England, USA, Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, India and parts of Africa. Possibly others as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by msclrhd ( 1211086 )

        No, from []:

        Newzbin indexes and links to everything on Usenet. Sometimes, you may find an item listed that you'd prefer us not to have - you may own copyright over the software for example, and having it distributed via Usenet is not your preferred method.

        Since the indexing is automated we can't discern what to index, and what not to index.

        • The thing is, just claiming they aren't isn't necessarily enough.

          Now, I don't know enough to have an opinion on whether they do exist to facilitate copyright infringement or whether they just see it as a generic search engine. There will be more evidence than just the public statement.
    • by antek9 ( 305362 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:50PM (#30971622)
      Ok, but it's so easy to take down Google. You know how it works, just enter 'google' into Google... As a collateral, you will also break the Internet that way, but what does the MPA care, anyway.
  • What (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:43PM (#30971568)

    There's an enormous difference between The Pirates Bay and newsbinz.

    Newzbin just automatically trawls all the binary newsgroups and automatically creates and index of what it finds. It's a common carrier, just like google. The fact that the binary newgroups have an enormous amount of pirated content is no more the fault of newzbin than the fact that the internet is choc full of disturbing porn is the fault of google.

    The Pirates Bay, OTOH, is a site where the admins deliberately remove pirated content that was mislabeled from the site. This, as well as the site name, makes their database deliberately biased to help with piracy. Maybe that is illegal and maybe it isn't, but the point is, what TPB does is different than what newzbin does.

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      While Newzbin does do automatic indexing, it also does manual indexing using human 'editors'. They are responsible for categorizing and labeling things.

    • Re:What (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kirijini ( 214824 ) <kirijini AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @09:44PM (#30976354)

      Newzbin... [is] a common carrier, just like google.

      I understand what you're trying to say, but "common carrier" isn't the right terminology. The term "common carrier" has an important legal meaning, on top of the general idea that it refers to a service provider that is open to the public.

      Common carriers, like airlines, railroads, telephone networks, grain elevators (not kidding - in the 1800s, grain elevators were considered by the courts to be "common carriers") are business that are "affected with a public interest," and are regulated. Typically they have unusual liability standards, are forbidden from discriminating, and in return may have special privileges vis-a-vis public right of ways and eminent domain powers.

      Google is not a common carrier. Neither is newzbin. ISPs aren't common carriers either - they've been desperately fighting for years to avoid being classified as common carriers, and thus become subject to the kinds of regulations that come with that title.

      Let me put it this way - if Newzbin was a common carrier, then a poster on a newsgroup somewhere would be able to sue Newzbin if it didn't index that post within a reasonable amount of time. Likewise with Google - if it was a common carrier, then it would be liable to the owners of websites that it either negligently didn't index (overlooked somehow) or purposefully didn't list (like that website with photos of Michelle Obama made to look like a monkey).

  • by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:56PM (#30971676)

    Why are all these cases aimed at people who merely index content? Filehosters like Rapidshare and Megaupload are not only actually hosting and distributing the files themselves, but their whole business revolves around copyright infringement. People pay for premium service to download more illegal stuff faster, and they generate so much ad money from high traffic only because of the infringing files they make available. Finally, they would be a more logical target for civil suit since they actually have money to loose.

    I have no sympathy for either of the *AAs and I understand some of these points apply to other sites to some extent, but I don't understand why they choose to overlook the juiciest targets.

    • by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:29PM (#30971956)

      I should also mention these places tend to have a reward points program where you earn points for each download you get, and these points can be traded for cash or premium service. The hoster Hotfile, in particular, has be popular recently since it's possible to make a decent amount of money if you upload a lot of stuff and spam the links on forums all over the internet. That a makes "piracy" a commercial venture.

      These sorts of cash rewards for uploading aren't commonly found in bittorent or usenet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Why are all these cases aimed at people who merely index content?

      Because its easier to show in the court what is going on ' look, the have this web page here that says you can download xyz'. And then present pretty graphics to the judge. Trying to explain packets and p2p clients would be harder and risky.

      And if they shut down 99% of the public sites, they have succeeded in their task. They know they cant ever stop the hardcore, but if they can get to the casual down loader, they will be happy.

    • by misexistentialist ( 1537887 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:59PM (#30972974)
      Legal fantasies of "intent" and "enabling" are problematic for index sites, but Rapidshare just operates servers, which the law of the universe declares legal. The copyright holders therefore are working to force storage providers and ISPs to start making indexes, because storing, distributing, and indexing pirated material is definitely illegal. (See []) That this requires universal censorship is of no concern to corporations and the politicians that obey them.
      • Since when does "not being allowed to transmit contents copyrighted by a 3rd party" equal universal censorship? You're still able to transmit anything you are allowed to transmit by law, like now. Do you think sounding uber-alarmist makes you cool?
        • I probably should have said "surveillance," though I think government-required filtering of pirated files would progress to blocking things like "obscenity," "hate speech," etc. I suppose Carnivore-style surveillance is already taking place, but more surveillance is still bad. Having to get approval for every byte transmitted over the internet is not cool.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Basically, I think it is because they'll only do cases where they think they'll win something. For example, quite early on Usenet servers scored some pretty fundamental victories against copyright so they're attacking indexers instead which could put a cramp in Usenet's style. I think the biggest danger is that by attacking Rapidshare and Megaupload, is that they'll kill off files without password because those could be scanned and filtered. I suspect shortly after a victory against them, a new set of file

      • Yeah, a usenet full of passworded archives needing 2 separate websites to unlock them sure sounds like win to me.
    • Because Newzbin have set up their business such that the easier it is for their users to pirate stuff the more they get paid.
    • It's easier if you can file suit in the US.
      Always go after the weakest preys first, you'll have it easier once you have set a precedence.
      The **AAs are being paid a lot by the studios and needs to look busy doing something, but without piracy a lot of the **AA dudes/dudettes would probably be out of work.
  • by tangent3 ( 449222 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:10PM (#30971772)

    Now I have. Thanks MPAA.

    • Not going to do you a lot of good. They're not accepting new members.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        They are, they just require an invite from an existing member. Easiest way to get one is to ask on the forums for your favorite newzbin capable app. I'm always out of invites since I give them to users of my app who ask for one.
    • by psyron ( 1175659 )
      NZBMatrix [] is an alternative. One off fee of (IIRC) $10 for full retention, well worth it. I've nearly stopped using torrents altogether since finding that site.
      • You might also consider Giganews []. They offer plans starting at $2.99 and you can get SSL encryption if you wish. They are also rolling out a VPN offering soon.
  • Takes another hit.

  • "Allowing illegal copying?"

    If you're not part of the solution...then you're probably allowing illegal copying. In fact, right now I'm allowing illegal copying, I'm also allowing illegal drug use, murder, rape, public indecency and numerous other crimes - guess I should turn myself in right now.

    • by socz ( 1057222 )
      That's one of the problems with a court system. Things don't always make sense. For example, in my case, I told the judge I would be able to prove certain things were the court to give me permission to obtain certain documents. The judge said "that's up to you to obtain." haha Legally, I can not obtain those as I need the person who the records belong to to give me permission. But say, I obtained them any way I could (say a P.I.) then it wouldn't matter in court, even though they were unlawfully obtained.
  • I can see true automatic search engines like and being able to use this "we are just a search engine" defense, but NewzBin apparently uses humans to create the index. Stupid, and also an obvious step towards supporting piracy...

  • Is there any software available to do the indexing yourself? Just let it run every day on the groups you're interested in, feed it with the article lists posted since last time, and build the index yourself at home. That should be quite feasable. After a few months, you would have your private nzb index.

    • by socz ( 1057222 )
      I did something similar to this! I call it my loot script. It's a script that runs on a usenet program. It initiates the program, logs in, then downloads headers that you specify (group, date range) and creates an index. Then, it searches for what you're looking for (already specified such as release group for smallville). Next it downloads and then rebuilds all your usenet goodies.

      I've been wanting to release it but I have to clean up the code first. Also that BSD machine has been moving around quite a
  • Will not apply for Google! Small fishes die first.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"